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Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes and effects on AA 737 MAX 8s (NOT reaccommodation)

Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes and effects on AA 737 MAX 8s (NOT reaccommodation)

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This thread is dedicated to the effect on AA from the October 29, 2018 and March 10, 2019 crashes if two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively.

To discuss the probable and limited return of the Boeing MAX to service with AA at the end of 2020 and increasingly in 2021, please see

American Planning 737 MAX Service Restoration (Limited Dec and 2021)

To discuss reaccommodation by AA subsequent to the grounding of all Boeing MAX 8s and 9s by the US Federal Aviation Administration on 13 March 2019, please refer to 737 MAX grounded 13 Mar 2019. What to do if you were supposed to fly on one?

13 March 2019: All US airline Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft are grounded by US Federal Aviation Administration emergency order. AA has removed all 737 MAX 8 from scheduling through...
“Based on the latest guidance, the airline anticipates that the resumption of scheduled commercial service on American’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will occur (limited schedule Dec 2020).

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The thread regarding the 10 March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines ET 302 737 MAX 8 crash out of Adis Ababa is Ethiopian Airlines: Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes on way to Kenya [ET302 ADD-NBO 10MAR19]. Link.

The thread regarding the 29 October 2018 Lion Air JT 610 737 MAX 8 crash out of Jakarta is Lion Air flight from Jakarta has crashed
. Link.

The best narrative and information available is probably the Aviation Herald’s Crash: Lion B38M near Jakarta on Oct 29th 2018, aircraft lost height and crashed into Java Sea, wrong AoA data, by Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Oct 25th 2019 13:35Z, last updated Friday, Oct 25th 2019 16:05Z. Link.

American Airlines ordered 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (7M8) with options for 60 more. The first 737 MAX -8 flew at the assembly facility in Renton, WAshington, USA on 29 Jan 2016. Deliveries to AA commenced in late in 2017, with four delivered in 2017,16 more during 2018, with 20 more to be delivered during 2019. IATA code B38M; AA code "7M8".

Link to the story of how 737 MAX’ birth in the DFW Admirals Club and the forces that shaped it.

29 October 2018: Indonesian carrier Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29 crashed into the sea soon after takeoff with the loss of all aboard, apparently due to the erroneous data from a faulty Angle of Attack sensor, which caused the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) to assume the plane was about to stall, which activated the downward force on the Stabilizer Trim to get the nose down. Link to BBC article.

Link to Aviation Herald discussion.

Link to FlyerTalk airline forum thread regarding this incident.

“Instead of switching off the Stabilizer Trim the pilots appear to have battled the system.” Link

This aircraft had been written up as having a faulty AOA indicator for the previous three flights it had taken. It is unclear if Lion Air had performed adequate maintenance procedures after the reports or withdraw the aircraft from service until the fault could be completely cleared.

7 November 2018: The US Federal Aviation Administration / FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD note) covering the AOA within a few days, giving US airlines 30 days to comply with the AD.

7 November 2018: Boeing issued revised operating instructions covering the revised MCAS used in the MAX 8, updating the MAX operations manual. See the manual update and the switches referenced in this post.

See “What is the Boeing 737 MAX Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System?”, updated November 17 to explain the MCAS and electric trim override operation, here: link.

10 March 10, 2019: An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 departing Addis Ababa to Nairobi turned back to the airport soon after takeoff, but crashed with the loss of all aboard.

Link to BBC article.

Link to Aviation Herald discussion.

Link to FlyerTalk airline forum thread regarding this incident.

10 March 10, 2019: The US National Transportation Board / NTSB has dispatched an investigation team, as have Boeing, to Addis Ababa to assist the Ethiopian investigators in determining the cause(s) of the crash. The “black boxes” (cockpit voice and the flight data recorder have been recovered.

A revised MCAS is in the works, and the FAA is expected to issue an AD note when the MCAS update is done. This is expected to occur in May, 2019.

11 March 2019: China grounded its 737 MAX 8 (not MAX 9) fleet.

11 March 2019: the US FAA stated it would not ground US (AA, AS, UA, WN) 737 MAX aircraft at this time.

Link to FAA Airworthiness Notification for USA registered B38M aircraft PDF.

Link to Wall Street Journal article.

11 March 2019: AA APFA Flight Attendant union spokesperson asked AA to ground the MAX 8s. (TPG)

11 March 2019: AA pilots through their APA union have requested passengers allow the investigators do their work and refrain from jumping to conclusions. “We caution against speculation about what may have caused this tragic accident,” the Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement. (TPG)

12 March 2019: The nation members of the European Union, the United Kingdom and several other nations ban their airlines’ operation, and other airlines’ overflight or flights, of the B38M aircraft. Link to New York Times article.

12 March 2019: Other USA airlines operating 737 MAX aircraft (of all types) are United (UA), Southwest (WN). AS has ordered the MAX 9, but deliveries have not yet been made.

Link to The Points Guy “how to tell if you’re flying a 737 MAX 8” article

13 March 2019: American Airlines pilots’ union APA issues statement in support of the AA B38M: “The AA APA spokesman says AA's MAX 8s have additional indicators on the planes, which others do not have. He says they're the only ones equipped with TWO AOA displays - one for each pilot. This, I guess, is why AA feels they can keep flying the MAX 8. The spokesman said he felt UA and SW (WN) were getting these added to their MAX planes. “ - Econometrics

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/1...ilot-says.html

13 March 2019: Canada grounds Canadian B38M aircraft. The US is the sole remaining nation to allow operation of the 737 MAX 8. Link to USA Today article.

13 March 2019: US Federal Aviation Administration issues emergency order for immediate grounding all USA airline operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft, effectively immediately. Link NYT story.

13 March 2019: American Airlines issues announcement of 7M8 grounding. Link to PDF. According to AA:

On average, American operates 85 flights per day on the MAX 8, out of 6,700 departures throughout the American Airlines system. Our operations center is working to re-route aircraft throughout the system to cover as much of our schedule as we can.
13 March 2019: AA issues policy allowing those scheduled for 7M8 flights through April 4 to refund or change without fees for cancellations, or to make free changes to their flight plans. See the thread linked to at the top of this Wiki for a link.

14 March 2019: It is announced the French BEA will retrieve the data from the Ethiopian Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder.

Link to Eight things you might not know about black boxes
By Cristen Tilley, ABC Australia

15 March 2019: BBC article states FAA says the MAX will not be cleared for flight at least until May. Link to story.

15 March 2019: On the other hand, CNBC states Boeing will have the anti-stall software update for the MAX ready in ten days, and that the FAA is expected to sign off on the modification on March 25, 2019.

NOTE: Thus Wikipost is locked. Please contact JDiver by PM, or use the report post to moderator button , to request changes or correct errors, etc.






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Old May 2, 19, 6:48 am
  #556  
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
No matter what you do to a car, it will always be less safe than a plane. That's not really the point.

I have to say that Boeing has done some masterful PR here. They have shifted the discussion to the MCAS. The MCAS is not the problem. It's an attempt to fix the problem. The problem is that the engines are too big and in the wrong place, making the plane inherently unstable. This can't be fixed with software because its not a software problem, and no one is discussing the real problem.
I think a LOT of people would vehemently disagree with you, even those that think Boeing royally screwed this up.

The issue from my understanding is not any inherent instability with the plane, it's just that, in certain corners of the flight envelope (meaning in very specific situations unlikely to be often encountered), the plane will handle somewhat differently than a 737-NG. That's totally and 100% fine, if pilots are trained on how to handle the plane in those conditions, with checklists, and simulator time, and whatnot. But that would likely require a new type certificate, which is exactly what Boeing (well really, its customers, including AA) wanted to avoid, for cost/speed reasons, since pilots would need to be certified on the new plane. So, among other things, they came up with MCAS to make the plane mimic how a 737NG would handle in those scenarios, that was supposed to be invisible to the pilots. If this were a fly-by-wire aircraft, like Airbuses and some of Boeing's more modern widebodies, this all would have been built into the flight control system.

MCAS was quite clearly very poorly implemented, but it's not an issue with the aircraft. For example, the change in placement of the engines has less an impact on the aircraft's center of gravity than cargo (or pax I supposed) could depending on where it's loaded.
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Old May 2, 19, 8:48 am
  #557  
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IMO the design changes between the original 737 and the NG were more radical than between NG and MAX in some ways, given the larger, higher bypass engines used on the NG radically altered the geometry of the aircraft. I’ll add illustrations below.

What’s interesting is the demonization of the MAX, probably by people who have been happy to fly multiple 737s - which had a major design fault that contributed to a number of uncontrolled rudder movement incidents due to the single, double valved power control unit. This resulted in - guess what - two crashes killing all aboard and some other reported incidents ultimately requiring an FAA AD note to order the fix. (Not to mention on the other side of the divide Airbus has its own problems when A320 problems were surfaced by the Air France AF 447 incident.)

The jet era has been punctuated by design failures where that were addressed when the cost of lives exceeded the cost of repair.

The world’s first commercial passenger jet, the De Havilland DH-106 Comet, imploded at altitude from fuselage stress cracks originating at the corners of the <ahem> square windows. Grounded. Redesigned. Flew successfully for years, and I flew in a number of Comet IV-C.

The Lockheed L-188A Electra had a major design flaw that caused structural failure of the wing from “undampened propeller whirl mode”, wherein flutter was induced by oscillations of the outboard engine nacelles which reached a magnitude sufficient to fail the right wing. The aircraft shed its wings in mid air. Two aircraft were lost, BN 542 and NW 710. Lockheed redesigned the engine mounts, nacelles, and cowlings, and modified the wing to improve strength capabilities. The Electra flew safely after, and I flew in any number of Electras operated by AA, EAL, PSA, AirCal, etc.

The Douglas DC-10 had a double design error in the new baggage hatches and lack of pressurization vents in the floor causing failure, sudden fuselage decompression, floor collapse severing all control cables to the empennage, resulting in the total loss of TK 981. Nearly two years later AA 96 crashed from the same causes, but the brilliant cockpit crew crew used differential engine thrust to land the aircraft and nobody aboard was injured. The design issues were rectified. The DC-10 flew and still flies with cargo carriers. (The ‘10 suffered other notable incidents, particularly the engine separation incidents caused by another design safety failure coupled with faulty maintenance procedures used by Continental and American.)

Etc. with a number of similar developments.

The 787 just had an AD note issued by the FAA affecting 787's tire and wheel "threat zones" that could be the source of damage under certain conditions and cause loss of breaking and steering power. Boeing and airlines had identified this two years ago, the FAA mandated the required the safety changes required to assure compliance wasn’t merely voluntary. And there were the battery issues. Not to mention radical changes as the first aircraft with major components made of carbon fiber. (Having lived through these aviation developments, my first Dreamliner flights were last year. I’d already chosen to book away from MAX aircraft for a few years.)

There’s a recurrent theme here one might call engineering boldness supplemented with hubris - necessary for technological advancement, but entailing a degree of risk, whether it's nuclear power or aviation. And in aviation, the recurrent theme has been flaw discovery and a fix when cost if lives exceeded cost of repairs. 737 MAX: here we go again.

Two possible issues at least with the MAX - the ones mentioned in this thread already and another unmentioned one: the Angle Of Attack sensors used in the MAX and several other aircraft have been written up in 216 incident reports where the devices failed or had to be replaced or fixed. The frequency of malfunction and Boeing’s repeated insistence, repeated yesterday to CNN, that using a single AOA output instead of sampling both AOA outputs through sampling or comparative processes in MCAS : “Single sources of data are considered acceptable in such cases by our industry." CEO Muilenburg has been repeating this nonsense as if mere repetition justified it.

It looks like the MAX will be decertified with all the changes described previously and may ultimately be the safest 737 yet. But the cost has been high.

Illustrations of 737 aircraft flown by their order-initiating airlines. Look at the engines and their mounting positions. The original -100 “Fat Albert” has its low bypass engines mounted fully under the wing. The NG has moved that engine forward in a completely different position and redesigned pylon. The MAX has an elongated nose gear and redesigned pylons / mounting due to the increased engine diameter and size.

Lufthansa Boeing 737-100 “Classic” (-100 and -200)

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 “NG” (encompasses -600 on)

Air Transat Boeing 737-800 “NG” (better illustrates engine mounting)

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8
Attached Images     
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Old May 2, 19, 10:15 am
  #558  
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
What’s interesting is the demonization of the MAX, probably by people who have been happy to fly multiple 737s - which had a major design fault that contributed to a number of uncontrolled rudder movement incidents due to the single, double valved power control unit. This resulted in - guess what - two crashes killing all aboard and some other reported incidents ultimately requiring an FAA AD note to order the fix.
First, all that happened in the early 1990s. Half of FT wasn't even born then. Very ancient history. And I clearly remember being alarmed about the 737 at that time, but it didn't affect me much, because I was on mostly 757s and widebodies then, because that's what the airlines flew more commonly to domestic big cities.

The jet era has been punctuated by design failures where that were addressed when the cost of lives exceeded the cost of repair.
That's a roundabout way of describing "tombstone mentality." We. should. be. beyond. this. in. 2019.

The "demonization" of MCAS is occurring precisely because two crashes in the same model aircraft within five months should absolutely never happen in this day and age. We should know better.
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Old May 2, 19, 11:11 am
  #559  
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Originally Posted by DenverBrian View Post
First, all that happened in the early 1990s. Half of FT wasn't even born then. Very ancient history. And I clearly remember being alarmed about the 737 at that time, but it didn't affect me much, because I was on mostly 757s and widebodies then, because that's what the airlines flew more commonly to domestic big cities.

That's a roundabout way of describing "tombstone mentality." We. should. be. beyond. this. in. 2019.

The "demonization" of MCAS is occurring precisely because two crashes in the same model aircraft within five months should absolutely never happen in this day and age. We should know better.
I wholeheartedly agree. We should know better, and history repeats itself. Even the pattern. “Radically” new aircraft, certified and lauded by the press, two (or more) catastrophic hull losses, fleet is grounded, media hullabaloo ensues, repairs are effectuated, media moves to newer news and flying public quickly forgets. Rinse and repeat.

It’s almost as if some newer aircraft require blood sacrifice before the overlooked or unforeseen engineering and safety issues lead to fixes leading to safe aircraft. It’s ridiculous in this age, IMO. Due diligence, more thorough testing and evaluation, opting for enhanced safety and redundancy, erring on the side of caution would seem preferable to that.

I’ve learned the lessons history has afforded me, and that is why to this day I don’t fly in new, unproven aircraft. E.g. the Dreamliner first flew passenger a flight in October 2011; my first Dreamliner flight was April 2018. I’ll be more willing to fly the MAX once it is recertified and begins proving itself because these issues were surfaced and are under intensified scrutiny.

Boeing is hopefully examining their culture, and of course they’re lawyerung up in anticipation of a lot of lawsuits. I sincerely hope going forward the industry reflects on this flawed pricess and steps up to the challenges in spite of delayed profits that might require.

Regardless of the reasons for AA having ordered the “optional” safety enhancements for their order of 100 MAX, I’m really glad they did. I hope going forward AA can find the motivation for doing that so they can regain momentum on what appear to be increased mechanical breakdowns and reduced operational capability.
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Old May 2, 19, 12:39 pm
  #560  
 
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Jdiver makes some good points on the challenges of other models, but to me the difference is that had Boeing not been trying to cheat the system to avoid a new type, they would have better designed frame to not require so many workarounds. No doubt they could take 80% of the MAX design and apply it to a new frame and it'd be a great plane - with proper engine placement, ground clearance, etc that would eliminate the need for MCAS.
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Old May 2, 19, 1:55 pm
  #561  
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Originally Posted by bchandler02 View Post
Jdiver makes some good points on the challenges of other models, but to me the difference is that had Boeing not been trying to cheat the system to avoid a new type, they would have better designed frame to not require so many workarounds. No doubt they could take 80% of the MAX design and apply it to a new frame and it'd be a great plane - with proper engine placement, ground clearance, etc that would eliminate the need for MCAS.
My understanding is that this would have introduced all sorts of design issues. Longer landing gear to increase wing clearance/height for the bigger engines? You need somewhere to put the landing gear, which probably would require a new fuselage/wing design. And probably more. I don't know if that 80% figure would have been possible, it may have effectively needed to be a clean sheet design. And they didn't have the time -- AA would have ordered the A320neo.
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Old May 2, 19, 3:21 pm
  #562  
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
My understanding is that this would have introduced all sorts of design issues. Longer landing gear to increase wing clearance/height for the bigger engines? You need somewhere to put the landing gear, which probably would require a new fuselage/wing design. And probably more. I don't know if that 80% figure would have been possible, it may have effectively needed to be a clean sheet design. And they didn't have the time -- AA would have ordered the A320neo.
Boeing had a plane that already had longer landing gear and plenty of room for bigger engines. It was called the 757. @:-)
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Old May 2, 19, 3:30 pm
  #563  
 
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Originally Posted by ijgordon View Post
I think a LOT of people would vehemently disagree with you, even those that think Boeing royally screwed this up.

The issue from my understanding is not any inherent instability with the plane, it's just that, in certain corners of the flight envelope (meaning in very specific situations unlikely to be often encountered), the plane will handle somewhat differently than a 737-NG. That's totally and 100% fine, if pilots are trained on how to handle the plane in those conditions, with checklists, and simulator time, and whatnot. But that would likely require a new type certificate, which is exactly what Boeing (well really, its customers, including AA) wanted to avoid, for cost/speed reasons, since pilots would need to be certified on the new plane. So, among other things, they came up with MCAS to make the plane mimic how a 737NG would handle in those scenarios, that was supposed to be invisible to the pilots. If this were a fly-by-wire aircraft, like Airbuses and some of Boeing's more modern widebodies, this all would have been built into the flight control system.

MCAS was quite clearly very poorly implemented, but it's not an issue with the aircraft. For example, the change in placement of the engines has less an impact on the aircraft's center of gravity than cargo (or pax I supposed) could depending on where it's loaded.
"Handles somewhat differently" seems to be a bit of an understatement. I prefer "kills everyone on board".

My point here is that the MCAS is not a good solution, in my opinion. The problem is not that it was poorly implemented; the problem is that it is necessary at all.
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Old May 2, 19, 4:27 pm
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Originally Posted by VegasGambler View Post
"Handles somewhat differently" seems to be a bit of an understatement. I prefer "kills everyone on board".

My point here is that the MCAS is not a good solution, in my opinion. The problem is not that it was poorly implemented; the problem is that it is necessary at all.
I mean, the reality is that the 737 MAX was just not a good solution. Boeing has finally been caught with their pants down on the 737 and it’s time the ancient design was finally killed off. As someone said upthread, the 757 would have been a far better platform off which to grow than the already Frankenstein-ed 737 platform.
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Old May 2, 19, 4:40 pm
  #565  
 
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
I mean, the reality is that the 737 MAX was just not a good solution. Boeing has finally been caught with their pants down on the 737 and it’s time the ancient design was finally killed off. As someone said upthread, the 757 would have been a far better platform off which to grow than the already Frankenstein-ed 737 platform.
Hindsight is always 20/20, however. I agree that from a current perspective the 757 would have been a far better platform off of which to grow (and I relish every time I am able to fly on the 757), but at the time Boeing decided to end the 757 program back in early 2000s aviation trends were not what they are today.
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Old May 2, 19, 5:42 pm
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Hindsight is always 20/20, however. I agree that from a current perspective the 757 would have been a far better platform off of which to grow (and I relish every time I am able to fly on the 757), but at the time Boeing decided to end the 757 program back in early 2000s aviation trends were not what they are today.
While I don’t disagree that hindsight is 20/20, 15 years hasn’t exactly seen the narrowbody aircraft market shift all that much. And as a massive corporation and one of the biggest players in the market, I would have expected Boeing to be a bit more forward-thinking. Especially since even at that point, the 737 lagged behind the narrowbody porduct offered by Airbus.
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Old May 2, 19, 6:06 pm
  #567  
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Originally Posted by flyingeph12 View Post
Hindsight is always 20/20, however. I agree that from a current perspective the 757 would have been a far better platform off of which to grow (and I relish every time I am able to fly on the 757), but at the time Boeing decided to end the 757 program back in early 2000s aviation trends were not what they are today.
Bad decision without any thinking beyond the next quarter. Boeing desperately needs another 777 clean sheet program, just for a narrow body plane. They are already caught with their pants down.

Last edited by DenverBrian; May 2, 19 at 7:42 pm
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Old May 2, 19, 6:42 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver View Post
IMO the design changes between the original 737 and the NG were more radical than between NG and MAX in some ways, given the larger, higher bypass engines used on the NG radically altered the geometry of the aircraft. I’ll add illustrations below.

What’s interesting is the demonization of the MAX, probably by people who have been happy to fly multiple 737s - which had a major design fault that contributed to a number of uncontrolled rudder movement incidents due to the single, double valved power control unit. This resulted in - guess what - two crashes killing all aboard and some other reported incidents ultimately requiring an FAA AD note to order the fix. (Not to mention on the other side of the divide Airbus has its own problems when A320 problems were surfaced by the Air France AF 447 incident.)

Lufthansa Boeing 737-100 “Classic” (-100 and -200)

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 “NG” (encompasses -600 on)

Air Transat Boeing 737-800 “NG” (better illustrates engine mounting)

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8
A slight correction here. 737 "classic" is known within the aviation circles as the 737-300, -400, and -500 series. The -100 and -200 are known as the "original" 737 series.

Interstingly the two crashes you allude to (UA 585 and US 427) involved different models of the 737. UA 585 was a 737-200 and US 427 was a 737-300. There was a near crash involving Eastwind 517 (also a 737-200), but the pilots were able to rectify the problem before the plane reached a point of no return.
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Last edited by IADCAflyer; May 2, 19 at 6:48 pm
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Old May 2, 19, 9:57 pm
  #569  
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Originally Posted by cmd320 View Post
it’s time the ancient design was finally killed off.
Agreed. Plane is a dinosaur.

LBJ was in office when it took it's first flight.

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Old May 10, 19, 11:46 am
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Longtime AA Forum Moderator JDiver was interviewed about the current 737 situation here - and makes some very important points (he might as well have cited George Santayana's quote, "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it".)

Boeing Wants You to Trust the 737 Max: Here’s One Expert’s View

by Anna Breuer

Boeing, after bungling its response to two deadly crashes of its new 737 Max aircraft and admitting that the company knew of issues with new technology that wasn’t ready for prime time in the aircraft, has a credibility gap.
The Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer is working to restore the faith of airlines, airline employees, and travelers in the aircraft while it tries to get its proposed software fix for the aircraft certified …
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This link is to an online source to which I contribute and/or have a financial interest
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Last edited by jspira; May 13, 19 at 8:55 am
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